Fiasco, that tabletop game that plays more like a collaborative improvisational storytelling exercise than anything, has always been one of my favorite games. The company that publishes it, Bully Pulpit Games, carries a range of similarly story-driven titles, and it just so happens that some of these miraculously fulfill two criteria:
- They’re designed for a single player.
- They’re free.
The Plant is one of these games, and I took some time out today to play through it.
How the Game Works
The Plant is “a solitaire roleplaying game,” and appropriately enough, you do play it like a game of solitaire.
The premise is simple enough: You are looking for your daughter in a plant.
The game’s engine consists of two types of cards, which you’ll make out of index cards (or whatever you have on hand):
- Plant cards: These carry a number from 1-10 and have the letters A-B written on the edges. You explore the plant by drawing these cards and chaining them together to determine your next scenario or destination.
- Detail cards: These can be anything from a person to an object to an emotion. You create these cards following some guidelines from the rulebook, and you’ll occasionally be prompted to draw these over the course of your journey.
The rulebook carries scenarios that you will basically weave through according to the cards you’ve drawn. And that’s it!
The Plant is a Story-Building Exercise
There are no points to rack up or objectives to pursue. The Plant is a game in the vein of Gone Home: an exploratory journey, where the game’s twists and turns lead you to pieces of story that you cobble together as you go.
What’s interesting here is that you create the game cards, and chance — you shuffle the cards and draw them to play — works with you to shape the game. The nature of the story you end up with is entirely up to you.
Setting Up My Game
I used some extra notepaper I had lying around. Here are the decks I gave myself for the game:
One deck of 10 Plant cards: three Down cards and seven numbered ones (3, 8, 9, 6, 5, 1, 7)
One deck of 10 Detail cards:
- Threadbare jacket
- Glimpse of your daughter in the distance
- Somber corporate person
- Feeling of regret on the skin
- Forgotten letter to your daughter
- Brand new wrench
- Your daughter’s voice whispering, “Come back.”
- Tattered astronomy book
- Taste of warm blood
- Smell of burnt toast
In the following posts, I’ll document how the story played out for me.